Blogged with Flock
I. Is the arc of history bending toward peace?
In the decade of Darfur and Iraq, and shortly after the century of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, the claim that violence has been diminishing may seem somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene. Yet recent studies that seek to quantify the historical ebb and flow of violence point to exactly that conclusion.
Tumbldown recently quoted this blog’s mantra (in a very sympathetic layout, thanks td!) that Planet Earth is evolving a mammalian brain, that the internet is knitting the synapses, and people like you and I are its conscience.
That’s a statement rooted in a progressive view of human history — which on good days I believe to the very fibre-optics of my being — but which of course has been a subject of phierce philosophical phighting since Rousseau (humans are savage, civilization tames them) took it up with Hobbes (life outside society is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”).
But anthropologist Steven Pinker claims he can actually quantify civilization’s civilization of our species, and his conclusion is that we live today in the most peaceful age in the history of humanity’s mortgage of Planet Earth.